MindBullets 20 Years

The new rich list

Where have all the old industries gone?

Forbes Magazine published its annual list of the world’s richest individuals yesterday. A separate study shows the dramatic changes in wealth creation over the past 30 years.

Real estate is one of the few industries that continues to be represented at the same level as a generation ago.

Environmental evangelists and celebrities from the sport and entertainment industries have shown the biggest growth.

For the first time, biotech and nanotech billionaires enter the list. Each of these industries is now worth more than a trillion US$ and expected to continue growing at more than 20% per annum for the next five years.

The biggest losers in the past 30 years have been the electronics and communication industries – which have become almost completely commoditized. Many electronic appliances, notably PCs and mobile phones, have morphed into in-body services powered by new organic chips.

The financial services industry has become completely digital. Global financial infrastructure and access to information has become essentially free. The new winners in financial services have learnt that packaged services and value-added advice is where the customer value is, now that money is completely digital.

The emergence of new biotech billionaires indicates that most growth in software is now coming from genetics where the ‘new winners’ are literally creating ‘living operating systems’. Genetic software has turned proteins into ‘living machines’ that manufacture almost anything on demand.

Agriculture and Forestry have re-emerged as winning industries world-wide, after an absence of more than 100 years. An industry analyst at yesterday’s press briefing quipped: “Does this mean we’ll see Nokia re-entering the forestry business?”

The billionaire list, once dominated by US individuals, now has a distinctly Asian flavor. Indian and Chinese billionaires represent more than 50% of the Top 100’s wealth, with the US and EU being there largely by virtue of ‘old money’, established in the previous century.

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